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Chinese GPS app questions


Moshen
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Hi everyone,

I am planning a road trip in China for the fall. We'll be driving a rented car and navigating using a Chinese GPS app. I don't know right now which app - whichever one is most comparable to Google maps.

My question is this: So that I can get familiar with GPS directions terminology, would it make sense for me to download a Chinese GPS app and practice with it in the US? Is that even possible? That is, would a Chinese GPS app provide directions in the US? If so, which app would you recommend and where would I find it (for Android)?

Or, would it be the same if I practiced by changing the language on my Google maps app to Chinese? And is that even possible without making my phone do everything in Chinese?

I know the words for right, left, straight ahead, exit, kilometers, etc., but I assume there are other words used that I wouldn't be familiar with. For example, in Europe, in English, the GPS is always talking about "roundabouts," which are pretty rare where I live in the US.

One more question: Someone who was in China last year said Google maps worked for her in China. But from what I've read, that might have changed in the last year?

Thanks in advance for any tips.

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Baidu Maps is the best available that I’ve seen. 

 

Google maps doesn’t work in China. However, your friend might have used a US data package on their phone during the trip. If you’re using an international roaming package from your home country I’m fairly sure you can access things like google, Facebook etc. When my brother was here in 2014 that was the case for him. He could access everything when using his phones data. He purchased an unlimited roaming plan back in the US. However, if he connected to WiFi he was just on normal Chinese Internet (hence it was restricted).

 

As to your question, depends on your level of Chinese and how good you are at using context to understand things. I use Baidu maps to navigate sometimes and I don’t have any issues. If the Chinese isn’t clear there’s a graphic display with arrows on the road layout ahead.

 

You can just download Baidu and open it up. Get a feel for it. You will need to type locations in Chinese in a Baidu maps. Most places don’t have English listings. 

 

Otherwise ive used Maps.me above and it’s ok. Apple maps might be an option? 

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It's either 百度地图 or 高德地图. Baidu is more user-friendly, lists more restaurants, movie theaters and the like. Gaode is more accurate, especially in real-time traffic data, therefore preferred by taxi drivers. Both can be downloaded from Google Play Store. But the GPS navigation doesn't work in the US.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

It turns out that when I downloaded 百度地图 from the Google Play Store, it was able to navigate me in Chinese around my small town in New England just fine.  I did a test run today with a native Chinese speaker and got the hang of the basics in about 20 minutes.  Big relief!

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On 7/7/2019 at 10:17 AM, Publius said:

It's either 百度地图 or 高德地图.

 

Yup I use 高德地图  (Amap) 3 or 4 times every week. I prefer it over 百度地图。It updates with traffic accidents very quickly as publius noted. For the other features I just use 大众点评, but really both are good. I'm just used to AMap now.

 

I don't ever pay attention to the voice as the map graffics are great and accurate. (A new road layout opened last week where I live and that very day Amap had it incorporated!

) In any case I mostly use it on a motorbike so listening is out of the question. Even when driving there are too many "over the speed limit" and speed camera warning messages. You can probably mute it in the settings I imagine. 

 

As a general rule I always download Chinese apps using Chinese mainland hosting sites , not Google. I always seem to have  problems if using Google version. 

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On 7/6/2019 at 6:15 PM, Moshen said:

I am planning a road trip in China for the fall. We'll be driving a rented car

 

By the way, will you be driving? Just in case you are unaware  you will need a Chinese driving license.

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By the way, will you be driving? Just in case you are unaware  you will need a Chinese driving license.

 

Thank you, we have that angle completely covered with up-to-date info on where and how to get a temporary Chinese driving license good for up to 90 days.

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For future reference, last October googlemaps did work with my foreign data plan. However, it showed no traffic information. 

 

Apple maps on my iPhone  worked fine. 

 

I used both just just to get around by walking, metro, & taxi, not to drive. For those environmentally oriented, MetroMan was a good app for the metro. 

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Google maps "works" except that the real-time position it shows is way off.  Are you saying that with a foreign SIM this doesn't happen?

 

MetroMan is great, especially for free... Except the map of Beijing showing physical locations of lines and stations is very out of date. For example it shows lines 14 and 15 as still under construction, and Anli Lu station is incorrectly labelled "Datun".  The schematic subway map is correct though.

 

I've only ever used it in Beijing so I'm not sure about the maps of other cities.

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10 hours ago, Moshen said:

Thank you, we have that angle completely covered with up-to-date info on where and how to get a temporary Chinese driving license good for up to 90 days.

 

Oh great, i looked into that for my friend but I seemed to get conflicting information on that. Is that at Beijing airport? What about car rental , any issues that way?

 

I used Google maps initially when I came here but I when left Beijing it was near useless as others said it was inaccurate and slow which is highly important at complex highway intersections when real time updating is vital and your spending most of your time  watching for the chaos on the roads. 

 

I really see no reason for using Google Maps in China tbh if you have any sort of understanding of Chinese. 

 

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Oh great, i looked into that for my friend but I seemed to get conflicting information on that. Is that at Beijing airport? What about car rental , any issues that way?

 

Correct, at the Beijing airport you can get the temporary driver's license.  You have to be in China for less than 90 days, have a physical, bring visa-type photos and your regular driver's license from home.

 

I will let you know later if the car rental goes through as planned.  On our last trip, we were able to reserve a car on Hainan Island from Avis, and we were hopeful, but when we got there, they said without a Chinese driver's license, no way.

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10 hours ago, Moshen said:

have a physical

 

How is that done in practice?

 

There is a medical exam office just down the hall from the office at the airport where you arrange for the drivers license.  They test your eyesight, I'm not sure what else.  But it's pretty quick, people say.

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@Moshen

 

After you hire your car, if you could make a post about your experiences that would be very helpful! My friend is asking me as he wants to come with his family but I'd not like to mislead him as it would scupper his  plans. I can't seem to find any first hand reliable information. Some people tell me that although you can get the license, hire companies won't accept it due to no Chinese address , but surely the licensing department can guide people on how to actually hire a car. 

 

It would clear up a lot of missinformation! Many thanks

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